Ouch, bad day yesterday to be involved in running a major league team.
Seattle Mariners GM, Bill Bavasi, was “relieved of duties” and shown the door. I’ve always enjoyed the Mariners on a basic level. I think everyone grew up a fan of Ken Griffey Jr. but the Mariners also had players like Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner that I liked to watch play in the mid-to-late 90′s. I was never really a fan of the team but I liked the players they had and would look for their names in box scores when I got the chance. I saw Ichiro play live for the first time last year at the All-Star game and watched him hit the first ever inside-the-park home run in an All-Star game. Ichiro is great.
Being a Giants fan, I can sympathize with Mariners fans who didn’t like the direction their team was heading. I think as Giants fans we are uniquely qualified to understand this type of pain. Bavasi made some strange moves and while he probably was a great guy, maybe he just wasn’t cut out to be a general manager. Playing Jose Vidro at DH was extremely weird and head-scratching. They took Vidro, who at this point in his career had become a slow-footed singles hitter, and placed him in the one position that you need offense from the most. It’s like that Sesame Street game, ‘Which One Doesn’t Belong?’, David Ortiz, Frank Thomas, Jime Thome, Jose Vidro?? Then, in an attempt to correct the error of Vidro at DH, they called up their best hitting prospect in Jeff Clement and let him get all of 40-something AB’s before deciding that he wasn’t ready and shipped him back to the minors. They just called him back up today.
That’s just a brief viewing of some of the weirdness going on in Seattle. Follow the ‘strange moves’ link above to read about some of the other stuff. The less we talk about the Bedard trade, the better.
Fun Fact: Bavasi was rumored to have offered Zito 7/99 before the Giants came in and totally bonered things up. Bill Bavasi almost saved us from the horror that is BZ, and for that, I’ll always appreciate you just a little bit Mr. Bavasi. It’s unfortunate that Barry Zito didn’t like mocha frappachinos more. And yes, the phrase ‘totally bonered’ is a real term, look it up.
After Bavasi was cut loose, the Mets then proceeded to fire head coach Willie Randolph, pitching coach Rick “I can fix Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes” Peterson, and first base coach Tom Nieto. Peterson was known for working as the pitching coach with the A’s from 98-2003, the years of the “Big Three”. Zito and Peterson are close and it’s got many wondering, should the Giants bring in Rick Peterson to try and fix their $126M problem? Call me skeptical, but this isn’t the same Zito that Peterson knew during his time with the A’s and unless Peterson can magically make Zito start throwing 89mph again, I’m not sure he can really help him.
After getting swept by the A’s, the Giants played the red hot Detroit Tigers last night and won! The game had it all, Lincecum vs. Verlander, a Freddy Loo homer, a Bowker 3-run shot to put the G’s up, and Bochy even got tossed when the umpires blew a call in the 7th.
Marcus Thames continues to play out of his gourd. He hit 2 HR’s off of Lincecum, both on offspeed stuff that was up, taking his consecutive HR streak on hits to 7. I’ve never seen a hitter on such a roll. Lincecum didn’t have his usual dominate start but he held a surging Tigers team to 4 runs — would have been 3 without the blown call at home in the 7th — over 7 innings. Even when Lincecum isn’t firing on all cylinders, he’s still pretty good. The education of Tim continues.
Fred Lewis went 2-5 that included a double and a HR off of Verlander to tie the game in the 5th. He had 3 RBI’s on the night. His line for the year is at: (.284/.362/.475) 119 OPS+. The man of the evening was John Bowker. Bowker went 3-4 with a 3-run HR to take the lead in the 8th inning when he whacked a Ferando Rodeny hanging changeup into the RF seats.
A little over a weak ago I wrote a post trying to answer the question of, has John Bowker been unlucky so far this year? The basis of my argument was that he’s hitting a ton of line drives and his BABIP was very low for someone that’s hitting line drives almost a quarter of the time. When I made the post, Bowker was hitting (.248/.299/.411) with a BABIP of .280. A week later, his line has improved to (.273/.320/.460) with a BABIP of .314.
What’s the difference between this week and last? Nothing. Bowker is still hitting line drives at a great rate but the difference is that they are going for hits. Line drives fall for hits 75% of the time and Bowker was running into a little bit of bad luck previously. I love this quote from him in the recap from SFGiants.com on his approach.
“It’s a big park, but you can’t let it mess with you,” Bowker said. “You have to hit line drives. Line drives are still hits.”
The Giants need to keep playing Bowker at first base against righties. I even wouldn’t mind seeing the Giants give Bowker some AB’s against left handed pitching, either. Great game from Bowker and it was good to see him have some good luck. His first two hits on the night were line drives that he stung.
Watching games like last night remind me that I’m always going to be a fan of baseball, even if our team isn’t the best. We might be low on talent but there’s more than one silver lining with this years team if you look hard enough, squint if you have to. Watching players like Tim Lincecum, Fred Lewis, and John Bowker have some success at this level has been very rewarding.